George Bush photo

Proclamation 6085—Earth Day, 1990

January 03, 1990

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The world's natural resources sustain not only the economic and social development of nations, but the entire spectrum of life on Earth. In our natural surroundings, we find breathtaking beauty and order -- reflections of the magnificent designs of our Creator. Environmental problems, on the other hand, reveal the tragic consequences of our failure to cherish and protect these wonderful gifts.

Twenty years ago, on January 1, 1970, then-President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 into law. This legislation signalled our Nation's growing concern about the state of the environment and set forth important Federal policy goals. Today, another decade is unfolding before us -- the third since America's strengthened commitment to protecting our natural resources. As we enter the 1990s, it is fitting that we pause once again to assess the state of our environment.

Tremendous progress has been made during the past 20 years in addressing environmental problems, yet great challenges remain. Many scientists are concerned that a buildup of certain gases in the atmosphere may cause significant climate changes with serious, widespread consequences, and there is growing evidence that the stratospheric ozone layer is gradually being depleted. Problems such as acid rain, deforestation, ocean pollution, and the improper disposal of toxic wastes also pose threats to the health of our planet. That is why, as we welcome the promise of a new decade, we must strengthen and renew our commitment to environmental protection.

While some of the challenges before us have changed, our responsibilities are the same today as those recognized 20 years ago. As a nation, we must acknowledge that our environment and economy are interdependent. We must also go beyond the traditional regulatory role of government and continue to seek solutions that embrace all sectors of society in preventing pollution and ecological damage before they occur.

The first Earth Day helped increase dramatically public awareness of ecological issues. Across the country, millions of people rallied to express their concerns about pollution and to learn how they could help clean up and protect the environment. Thanks to the educational programs and volunteer programs established since then, many Americans now are more faithful stewards of our precious natural resources.

Today the United States is a leader in environmental protection. We have made important progress toward improving air quality through enforcement of the Clean Air Act, the phasing out of leaded gasoline, and more stringent fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. We have expanded our parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas. We have made major advances in protecting our lakes, rivers, and streams; and we have begun to clean up once-neglected toxic waste sites. The United States has also been a leader in the worldwide effort to study and address global climate change. Through our participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are working to promote environmental safeguards not only at home but also abroad.

Today we vow to press on with this vital work. On the day he signed the National Environmental Policy Act, President Nixon said the 1970s "must be the years when America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment." Today I say the 1990s must be the years when we not only pay our debt to the past, but also fulfill our obligation to protect this earthly home for generations yet unborn.

To heighten public awareness of the need for active participation in the protection of the environment and to promote the formation of an international alliance that responds to global environmental concerns, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 159, has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Sunday, April 22, 1990, as Earth Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities designed to promote greater understanding of ecological issues. I also ask the American people to rededicate themselves -- in their practices as consumers and citizens -- to protecting the environment.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.

Signature of George Bush


George Bush, Proclamation 6085—Earth Day, 1990 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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